It’s not uncommon for thieves to target farms around Taiwan, particularly when produce prices spike. Over the past year, Taiwan has encountered a few banana theft cases following a significant rise in prices. But there have also been cases of other produce thefts from farms.
Local farmer Cheng Chin-sheng (鄭進生) reported that nearly one hundred papaya seedlings were stolen from an organic farm in Houlong Township in Miaoli County on Thursday morning, UDN reported.
The farmer in Dazhuang Village noticed that about 100 of the papaya seedlings were missing when he checked on the fields in the morning. He added that he doesn’t suspect the seedlings to survive being transplanted as many roots were broken in the theft. He noted that the seedlings are only 25-30 cm tall at this stage and will take a year or two to bear fruit.
As papaya can be difficult to grow, the theft of the organic seedlings causes a significant loss to the farm and a reward of NT$10,000 (US$338) has been offered for information leading to the arrest of the thieves. Papaya requires a frost-free environment with a lot of sun and a large amount of water.
Chen said that the farm has been operating for about six years. He added that to maintain a high quality for the cultivation of papaya, he has to re-seed the fields every year to avoid losses from severe weather.
Chen claims that in the past some people would steal one or two seedlings for their own homes, but it wasn’t significant enough to notify authorities. He said that this year the thefts have increased, with the most recent causing the farm tens of thousands of dollars in losses.
Police are reviewing surveillance footage of the area to identify suspicious vehicles.